welcome to al jazeera america i'm morgan radford. here are the stories we are meanwhile, frustration is growing for hundreds of thousands of west virginia residents who have gone without clean tap water for days. and in haiti, many are still struggling to put their lives back together four years after the devastating earthquake. plus, the pope makes a big announcement from vatican city.
secretary of state john kerry and other top diplomats are saying the only way to achieve a political solution in syria is through the geneva peace talks. and they want the rebels to attend. the leaders are putting pressure on syria's main opposition group. and so far syria's civil war has killed 130,000 people. phil joins us live from paris. has anything come out of today's meeting thus far? >> well, morgan, there have been a couple of things that have come out from today's meetings. nothing earth shattering, but certainly it does look as though the main opposition group here, the syrian national coalition is making some progress with the friends of syria, that is a primarily western and arab group of nations that support those opposition groups. it looks like they are coming
a little bit closer together. it does look as though there is dialogue. of course the friends of syria would like to see the national coalition go to switzerland later this month because there is a widespread -- widely held opinion that the only real solution is a diplomatic political solution. but, there still remains some obstacles, obviously we have another day to go. there will be more meetings throughout tonight. and then into tomorrow. the highlight of which is expected to be a meeting between the russian foreign minister, the u.n. special envoy to syria and secretary of state john kerry. those three are some very powerful, obviously movers and shakers. they will sit down. they will discuss things and then we will see if in the end it can be agreed that the opposition will go to
switzerland. now, that's far from a solution. really all we are talking about here is the framework of talks. but, it is significant because if indeed the opposition does agree to go to switzerland, that would mean face to face talks between the government of al-assad and the opposition group. everyone wants to see that happen here in paris because the alternative is just more bloodshed. and the diplomatic core here saying that is to be avoided and that diplomatic solution is really the way forward. we will see if they can make that happen. morgan? >> but phil, just how important is the geneva peace conference to syria's future? >> vitally important. if you go with what is being said here in paris by the friends of syria. we had the french foreign minister come out after talks today and say that in unless
there is a geneva 2 that is the only solution, the only alternative would be bloodshed if you follow his train of thought. there obviously are going to be major sticking points, even if yes knee virginia 2 does happen, even if these two bitter enemies sit down together. there are huge differences, not least of which is what will be the future for al-assad. the friends -- or the opposition says as a pre-condition to talks it has to be agreed that assad's time is done. now that obviously is a nonstarter for damascus. there is a number of other issues on the table here. but because of this long-standing, now nearly three-year-old war what is threatening to destabilize not only syria itself, but the region the international community is hard-pressed. they are eager to get some sort of solution. they want the framework set up
here in paris so that towards -- on the 22nd in switzerland, that they can be real substantive talks. that would be a significant step forward. but, again, it is far from a done deal here in paris. morgan? >> phil live from paris is thank you so much for joining,. israeli dignitaries and members of the public have been saying good-bye to the late ariel sharon. the former prime minister's coffin lay in state today before his burial in southern israel tomorrow. >> this is the closest thing that israel has to the u.s. capital. we are outside the knessetet or parliament. and earlier today we were talking about how polarizing ariel sharon was and there weren't a lot of people showing up to say good-bye. but this even hundreds of thousands of people have come here after work to pay their
respects to say thank you to a man who perhaps more than any other in the last 50 years defined the israely state and re-- israeli state and recreated its border. what is his coffin surrounded my military officers that he led for decades and inspired for so long. while people here call him a war hero, people say he was the pillar of israeli strength. so many other people are calling him the symbol of israeli cruelty. >> when you talk to palestinians in certain areas that he targeted as a military commander and talk to palestinian in southern lebanon which he targeted as a defense minister, a lot of people call him a war criminal. a lot of people say he was ruthless, brutal, that he went after palestinians and prevented them from having a state. he led assassination squads and led militant commanders that created israel's reputation for ruthless reprisal. so a lot of critics of ariel
sharon. so here tonight you hear people call him a hero and people being sober thanking him for all the service he did as a general in the israeli army and as prime minister, and perhaps more than any other affecting the country and affecting everyone not only here but in the region. not only here but recently for the last 60 years. that was nick from jerusalem. in iraq dozens are dead and others injured after a bombing. the first explosion rocked a busy bus station in the center of baghdad killing 9 people. then four more were killed when a second bomb ripped through a group of buses and taxis. no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. speaking out now for the first time since exceptors of his new book were released, former defense secretary robert gays says he was trying to provide a nonpartisan look at key issues in washington. in his memoir coming out this
week, gates slams president obama in how he and this war in afghanistan and attacks vice president biden and security issues. gates talked about his time serving under two administrations. he emphasized he agreed with president obams's decision on the war but did question his commitment. >> it is one thing to tell the troupes that you support them, it's another to work it making them believe that you believe as president that their sacrifice is worth it, that the cause is just, that what they are doing is important for the country and that think must succeed. president bush did that with the troops. when i was secretary. i did not see president obama do that. in in his book gates says the obama administration expressed
skepticism about working with hamid karzai and did try to oust him four years ago. gates writes. as i sat there i thought the president doesn't trust his commander, canned stand karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his for him it is all about getting out. as al jazeera's jane ferguson reports this confirms exactly what the afghan president often said himself. >> it was an accusation often dismissed as paranoia. during his reelection campaign in 2009, afghan president karzai accused the u.s. of trying to get rid of him. >> there were a lot of stories in the british and american media about the plans in washington and in london to bring a change into the structure of governance in afghanistan, to weak 10 central government of afghanistan and go in afghanistan and put resources through them to afghanistan. >> now exceptor from then u.n.
defense secretary robert gates new book says that was true. gates writes angrily about the special envoy richard holbrook's attempts at what he calls a push saying holbrook and others extended support to many of karzai's challengers. the presidenttial palace's deputy spokesperson in kabul has reacted with an i told you so. >> what secretary gates has revealed in his book further proves the righteousness of president car die's claims -- karzai's claims that there were deliberate efforts to manipulate the genuine votes of the afghan people. but karzai was also accused of foul play at the time evidence of a campaign to rig the vote in his favor was widely reported. >> new allegations of interference by the obama administration could further discred it the election. leaving the afghan people unsure of who to trust.
they don't believe anybody anymore. the people of afghanistan have been misled so many times by so many players that sometimes they have lost -- at times they don't have the self-confidence that is sufficient for a nation to act on -- in their own interest. and it is very dangerous that we have depleted a nation from its self-confidence. >> revelations about possible u.s. interference in the last presidential elections here come just a few months before afghan's go to the polls to vote for their next leader. president karzai has warned repeatedly against foreign manipulation. a warning which now seems to hold more weight. jane ferguson, al jazeera, kabul, afghanistan. in just in. the white house is announcing that iraq will begin the roleback of nuclear program this month. beginning january 20th,
according to the announcement, iran will for the first time start eliminating stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium and dismantling the infrastructure which makes it possible. president obama says more needs to be done on a long-term settlement. in an agreement, south cree wa will pay to keep u.s. troops on the ground. the agreement was reached after a series of military threats from north korea. both the u.s. and seoul will share cost on security measures for the next five years. this is the ninth agreement since 1991 and it is now waiting for approval by south korea's parliament. federal investigators expected tomorrow at the scene of thursday's chemical spill in west virginia. up to 300,000 residents are still without safe tap water without drink organize washing, no word when it will be back again. testing continues for the chemical that leaked from a storage tank on thursday.
wee to have work a process to develop a set of protocols and methods to assess this particular chemical, a nonregulated chemical that did not have an existing set of protocols. >> officials say that contamination are falling and rains have helped flush out the spill. national guard says they need consistent evidence that contamination is in fact low enough to allow people to use their tap water. >> it may come to find that if the numbers are found to be below one part per million, then we may not have to flush the entire area. i think the systems are working. all the trends are going in the right direction. and we are hoping that we keep going in that direction and don't see a reason why we won't. >> so far fema has brought 370,000 gallons of portable water to charleston and nine surrounding counties. jonathan martin reports. >> with no clear time line for when tap water will be safe to use again, thousands of west
virginiaans are stocking up on clear water, where they can find. >> just have been using it sparingly. it is a precious commodity right now. >> the federal emergency management agency is delivering 1 million liters of bottled water to the nine affected counties. >> getting up and washing your hair or simple things like feeding a baby if you have a baby with formula, the little things you don't think about catches you offguard. >> i caught rain water this morning to do my dishes with. >> the problem is also impacting hundreds of businesses, from restaurants to salons, many are being forced to shut down. >> we have no idea when we are going to get a report that water is safe enough to use. >> steven blake is a hairdresser in downtown charlton. >> my clients come in, they want their harish shampooed or it is necessary to shampoo or water for certain chemical services that we perform. without that, we cannot work. >> charleston medical center is using two giant tankers to
get clean water. the hospital says it is enough to last a few days. for now, all nonemergency surgeries have been put on hold. hospitals report only a small number of patients have come in of symptoms related to the chemical spill including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. >> that was jonathan martin reporting from charleston west virginia. still ahead, four years after a quake devastated thousands of lives, a look at challenges hundreds of haitians still face today. plus, prisons for profit, is it economic or even ethical for private companies to run the country's jails? >> workers in greece delay your retirement? i'm here to make the connections to your money real.
there that need to be told. we want to go in to the trenches, we want to go in the corners that are less looked at. everyone at al jazeera america is dedicated to tell the story the best way that it can be told. al jazeera america gives you the total news experience anytime, anywhere. more on every screen. digital, mobile, social. visit aljazeera.com. follow @ajam on twitter. and like aljazeera america on facebook for more stories, more access, more conversations. so you don't just stay on top of the news, go deeper and get more perspectives on every issue. al jazeera america. >> idaho is taking back control of its privately run for profit prison. the state paided $29 million to a company to run the jail but has been the subject of lawsuits and allegations of violence.
courtney kealy has moyer. >> an investigation led to the release of this video. it showed one inmate at the idaho correctional center beating another. while no one, not even the guards bothers to stop the fight. >> the beating went on so long that inmate who was attacking him sat down and took a break to catch his breath. ap reporter has been aggressing the correction system in idaho for the past seven years. we found that the idaho correctional center had a rate three times higher than all other prisons in the state. the correctional corporation of america runs the idaho correctional center. the only privatery run prison in the state. inmates and prison guards nicknamed it the gladiator school. though the fight was visible o on surveillance cameras it took nearly ten minutes for guards to step in. the beaten inmate substained permanent brain damage. cca later settled a lawsuit with the family. one of has been filed against the company. but release of surveillance
video didn't prompt any major changes. then in 2 0 12, they billed the state for 3,000 hours for which no one had done any work. only at the beginning of this year that governor announced idaho would not renew its contract with cca. the governor said in a letter to the board of corrections it is apparent to me that our goal of consistently successful day-to-day operation is better served at this time by the state of idaho taking a more direct management role. on friday, the governor who has been in favor of private prisons decided that the handover should happen immediately but he may not have had a choice. after years of lawsuits and allegations, cca decided not to bid for a contract renewal and none of its competitors were willing to step in. the top three private prison management companies cca, geo group and mtc operate more than 130 facilities nationwide. idaho isn't the only place where private prisons have run
into controversy. a little more than two years ago dozens of inmates were injured when a fight run by at a prison run by cca turned into a riot. the state board of corrections just voted to expand privately owned prisons to help reduce overcrowding. california is under pleasure to do the same. we are talking about perhaps less than 10% of the total american prison population. >> i spoke with martin horn former commissioner of prisons in pennsylvania. >> there are as many bad stories coming out of public prisons as private prisons, maybe more. >> another reason states may be turning to privately run prisons lobbying and political spending. these companies spend tens of thousands of contributions in key states. despite any controversy it doesn't look like they are going away any time soon. >> that cast courtney kealy reporting. cca settled several lawsuits but still made billions in
profits last year. we reached out to the company and the governor for comment but have yet to receive a reply. no laughing matter, jewish organizations are calling for demonstrations against a comedian accused of anti-semitism. the comedian has been under fire for anti-semitic language. he announced he will perform a new act leaving out the material that the court says was hate speech but he did add that his concerns will continue the banned show as free speech. four years after an earthquake devastated haiti many are struggling to rebuild their lives. here are some of them living in a tent city in port-au-prince. >> seuss has lived here for three and a half years but it is not her home. that was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 2010. she moved into a tent city in
port-au-prince with her 24-year-old daughter and granddaughter. >> the conditions weren't good at all. it was a very difficult life. mosquitoes all over. the heat was killing us. it was very bad. >> so when she was offered a $500 voucher to move into an apartment a year ago, it was a huge relief. she took the money just like thousands of others. the yellow building across the road is where they process money transfers. it open five days a week and people line-up for hours and wait patiently for what they have been told is a way out of the tent cities they are living in. >> the money comes from the haitian government and aid groups. once someone accepts the voucher they have three days to de troy their tent and move into a new place but as this man told us, it doesn't go far. >> we pay the rent with the money they gave us. now we have no money to eat. it doesn't make sense. it would have been better to stay where we were. >> frakka is a coalition of 40
organizations, fighting for the rights of 300,000 people still living in tent cities. it claims 2 billion that should have been spent on helping them has gone to nongovernment organizations instead. >> energy is spent on cars, big salaries because the foreigners working far from their country. so they receive very high salaries. it is about equipment, salaries and maintenance. >> frakka says there are serious problems at the camps. limited access to toilets and drinkable water violence is increasing. amnesty international claim the say hahn government has forcibly evicted tens of thousands of people. officials deny the allegation and say relocating them is a priority. >> after her rental subsidy ran out, she moved to the second near tent city outstayed capital. few jobs and no public transport. >> it is very isolated but i don't have a choice. i don't want to live in a
place like this. we hear about the authorities but we don't know anything about the government. no one comes to visit or talk to us. >> not the life she wanted for herself or her family, which is the only future she can imagine. for al jazeera, port-au-prince, haiti. celebrities in hollywood for the big golden globe awards spent part of their weekend helping haiti. big star power came out to support sean pen's help haiti benefit making more than $6 million. u 2 made a surprise appearance. pope francis named his first flock of cardinals. speaking from his window, francis announced the 19 men including some from developing nations like haiti. elevations are in line with francis's belief that the roman catholic church must pay more attention to the poor. and still ahead, santa claus finally arrives at
>> thousands of israelis today paid their last respects to former prime minister ariel sharon in jerusalem. his coffin has been moved in preparation for a military funeral tomorrow at his home in southern israel. he will be laid to rest next to his late wife. iran will begin the role back of its nuclear program. for the first time iran will begin eliminating stockpiles of enriched uranium and dismantling some of the enrichment facilities. i'm meteorologist eboni deion. we are getting a chance to dry out in the northeast. but flooding issues remain. that is thanks to the rainfall from said one to two inches
fell here. we are still dealing with ice jams, thanks to the mild temperatures. so, the water really doesn't have anywhere to go. if we do get any breaks in the ice on some rivers, it is going to be released quickly. that is goes to cause some flooding as well. here is a look at the big scene. one front slides off our coast. but another front that made its way through the pacific northwest is now giving way to just a bit of a wintry mix across parts of the upper midwest. we are dealing with a steady stream of moisture in the pacific northwest. that is keeping things very s sogy along coastal areas of washington and oregon. higher elevations have been dealing with the snow. some places have seen over a foot in the cascades of oregon and we are expecting to add on to that. so travel here, not looking all that great. especially once you get into the mountainous areas. this is a look at i-90, tsunami pass where the chains are required. eastbound areas are closed all together.
you might find some restrictions with plans across the northwest. the winds have been an issue. now winds are up to 43 miles per hour and into idaho and montana we will find the strongest winds. temperatures are still on the mild side. temperatures are above average. we have another shot of colder area. air. all that cold air will head east over the next couple of days. morgan? >> thanks, eboni. and christmas has finally arrived at the international space station. a supply ship arrived. the 3,000 pound shipment included tools, supplies and the shipment was supposed to arrive before christmas, but launch was delayed until last week. thanks so much for watching al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford live from new york. the stream is coming up next.
for more news throughout the day head over to al jazeera.com. >> >> next we consider sacrifice and whether saving some members of endangered species is worth others. africa's black rhino population, less than 5,000 in the world today. the largest number remain in any mi ni nimibia, a very unlikely source a group of hinters in texas who say they want to help the black rhino by killing one.